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The Search for Sustainable Manufacturing
Sustainability is all around us — it takes place in many different industries. From real estate to agriculture, we’re talking about sustainable growth, sustainable farmings, and even sustainable manufacturing practices.
What is Sustainable Manufacturing?
So what exactly does it mean to manufacture sustainably? For some, it means accomplishing your current goals without getting in the way of future generations’ access to necessary materials. Others support sustainability by actively using products that lessen environmental impacts, conserve energy and natural resources, maximize safety, and help local economies.
Ultimately, being sustainable is a combination of avoiding wasteful methods that consume resources beyond the necessary, preserving and promoting safety and community, and managing to identify a process that is realistic and sustainable. For example, sustainability in manufacturing might mean hiring local workers and vendors to support communities. It could also mean using scrap metal in production or automating certain processes that are dangerous or inefficiently use materials.
Companies have increasingly started taking responsibility for more sustainable manufacturing processes across the board. Similar to home recycling or personal grocery shopping, businesses in every industry are taking a more thoughtful approach to material purchasing and usage.
Cut Down on Waste
Companies who practice lean manufacturing actively reduce lead time and material waste, therefore saving the company money, reduces byproducts, and cuts down on the consumption of energy. Waste typically happens in areas like transportation, processing, inventory, and overproduction, but also includes time — length of time from purchase to delivery, for example.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
The manufacturing process is impacted by materials, both the availability and quality of them, so reuse when possible. Alternative products or opportunities reuse materials are innovative ways companies can start approaching sustainability. While this may change the efficiency of production, the responsibility of companies to increase recycling and reducing waste is often healthy for branding and marketing purposes. Products might be marketable to a completely new demographic of mindful buyers who want to purchase from more responsible businesses.
Optimized facilities should ideally waste less materials and time. Sustainable practices positively impact the environment by consolidating, etc. Reusing water or heat can be a great way to optimize your space in a sustainable way.
Utilizing software tools that promote efficiency in the product creation and development stages also promotes sustainability. Project management can be a huge waste of physical materials, time, and energy if the right tools aren’t utilized. Streamline your product creation process for better teamwork and increased sustainability from product development to manufacturing.
The Bottom Line
Sustainability is a lifestyle, even for companies. It is cyclical, and one part doesn’t work without the others. When done correctly, sustainable manufacturing practices lead to increased efficiency, healthier workplaces, and a more viable world.
Sustainable manufacturing will only happen with collaboration, and Autodesk’s Fusion 360 makes that possible.